„The Text Was Considered Miraculous”. Magic Words in Pasternak’s „Doctor Zhivago”

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Rebecca Jane Stanton


In  Doctor  Zhivago,  Pasternak  brings  scientific  and  political  discourses  into  dialogue  with magical ones. In an emblematic episode, two soldiers from opposing sides each wear a protective amulet containing the „miraculous” text of  the 90th Psalm. One dies; one survivesWhile this discrepancy is easily traced to scientific and socioeconomic causes, the episode isdesigned to foreground the least rational explanation: that done right, magic actually worksEmbodying Pasternak’s interest in the interrelationships among science, politics, poetry, andmagic, the textual amulet is especially significant because it represents a magical power that is reserved for  words. This article finds that Pasternak’s novel contains numerous examples of  such  efficacious  „magical”  texts –  from  the  Gospels  to  peasant  songs,  from  political slogans to Zhivago’s poems – and argues that reading  Doctor Zhivago by the light of these„magic words” yields insights into the aesthetics and design of the novel. 


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Stanton, R. J. (2013). „The Text Was Considered Miraculous”. Magic Words in Pasternak’s „Doctor Zhivago”. Poznańskie Studia Slawistyczne, (4), 165–176. https://doi.org/10.14746/pss.2013.4.12
Magiczna moc słów w językach, literaturach oraz kulturach słowiańskich


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